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New report finds student debt hurts minority groups most

The student loan crisis has hit minority borrowers especially hard, according to a new survey by WGU Labs, an affiliate of Western Governors University, and Savi, a loan forgiveness technology company.

While 43 percent of all borrowers reported struggling to repay student loans, women and Black and Hispanic individuals expressed more hardship. Forty-seven percent of women surveyed said they had trouble managing loans, compared to 40 percent of men. Black and Hispanic borrowers reported struggle rates as high as 57 percent and 47 percent, respectively, compared to 36 percent of white borrowers.

The findings also show that outstanding student loans can delay life milestones—such as saving for retirement, buying a home, getting married or having children—as well as the accumulation of financial assets that contribute to financial security.

The study was based on a nationally representative Gallup survey, which sampled 3,056 student borrowers between the ages of 21 and 50.

To ease the burden on borrowers, the authors recommend more education on loan repayment and an expansion of employer student loan benefits.

“Student loan debt in the U.S. has nearly doubled in the last 12 years, totaling $1.76 trillion in 2023,” said Betheny Gross, research director of WGU Labs. “These survey findings point to the deep and broad impact the student loan crisis is having on millions of Americans’ lives and prosperity. Action from services, universities, employers and more is needed now to reform the student loan crisis.”

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